The Mistreatment Of Customers By Large Companies
I am sick to death of big businesses taking people for mugs and getting away with it. Due to the corruption in the system, the law is written to protect large companies at the expense of individuals. Shops used to quake in fear at the threat of a customer going to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau for help, but now they just laugh it off. The golden rule was once “The customer is always right” but those days are sadly gone.
Firms get away with selling shoddy products, bad customer service and reneging on guarantees. Partly because of drastic overpopulation with inadequate infrastructure to cope, threats to boycott a business are completely ineffective – there are always plenty more victims for them to rip off.
It’s about time this imbalance was rectified, but until we have politicians who prioritise their constituents, it seems the only way this will happen is if we, the customers and clients, stand together. We need to publicise their behaviour and arrange boycotts en masse. To this end, I have named and shamed several companies. If others do the same, we can take on these deceitful, backtracking tax avoiders with people power.
The first example that I can remember was perpetrated by Wilkinsons, now known as Wilko. My partner and I had gone round their aisles and filled a trolley with many items, for which we thought we had worked out the total cost. When our shopping was scanned however, it came to much more than we had expected. My mathematical skills are excellent, but everyone makes mistakes, so we took the word of the checkout operator to be true – she was the one with the barcode reader. We had to phone a couple of friends who we knew were not far away and ask them to come and lend us some money. Fortunately, they were able and willing to do so.
When we got home, we studied the receipt in an attempt to figure out where our tally had gone wrong. We discovered that Wilkinsons had charged us £20 for a quilt that we had not purchased. We went back expecting them to rectify their mistake. Alas, they refused.
They said we couldn’t prove that we hadn’t taken the quilt as we had left the premises. I demanded that we looked at the CCTV footage of the till we had paid at, as I felt sure that it would be obvious whether or not we had a large bulky item such as a quilt. They told us the CCTV does not cover that area, which I did not believe for a second! Security cameras are not aimed at the location where all the money is. Does that sound plausible to you?
I have never shopped at Wilkinsons or Wilko since, but they won’t have even noticed. This happened back when I was less motivated because of my history of depression, so they got away with it.
The last straw for me was after I bought Guitar Hero II for my partner’s birthday from Complete Entertainment Exchange. CEX had sold it to me with a 12 month guarantee. The whammy bar on the guitar stopped springing back out after around 1 month.
I took it back hoping for a repair. I had not opened the casing of the guitar, but it was obvious that a spring had snapped or detached and I told the cashier so. I was told to come back in 2 hours, so I hung around in Town to wait as it would have taken me most of that time to travel home and back.
When 2 hours were up, I returned to CEX. Their expert analysis had revealed that a spring had snapped, which I had told these geniuses without even looking. They told me that this was not covered by the warranty as it was “customer damage.” I was furious! How could the failure of an internal component be my fault? I would have agreed if I’d knocked a button off, or if I’d spilt a liquid and it had seeped inside, but how had I destroyed an inside part? Using telekinesis or The Force? I argued with them for a long time, but they were immovable.
I eventually got a refund, but only after I campaigned outside the shop for 3 days, warning potential customers not to go in. CEX tried various different approaches to get rid of me during these 3 days. They threatened to prosecute me for trespassing on their shopfront. I just took 1 step further away and carried on. They even sent an extremely large employee out to intimidate me. He placed his hand on my arm and said “I love you. I think I want to kiss you.” I remained determined until they conceded.
The recent example, which spurred me to write this article, was at the hands of Tesco. We ordered our fortnightly shopping as usual and arranged a delivery slot for Thursday night. While we were waiting, we received a phone call from the driver who informed us that he couldn’t make it. He rearranged delivery for the next morning. By 13:00, our shopping still hadn’t arrived so we contacted Tesco by phone.
We learned that the reason the driver had failed to deliver the night before was merely because there were a few youths present in the area so he didn’t dare attend. There was no mention of abuse or intimidation, it sounded like pure cowardice!
The woman on the phone told us this is company policy, so I would imagine that this happens a lot! If drivers are told to retreat every time they see a teenager, there must be a lot of customers who have the same problem. She also told us that the driver had not arranged a replacement delivery slot so the order had been cancelled. The worst part for us was that she said it would take 3-5 working days for our refund to clear in our account, which meant we couldn’t afford to reorder our shopping!
I explained that we have a 3-year-old to feed. I suggested that they cancel the refund and deliver the shopping we had ordered. They insisted that they couldn’t do that, as they’d “already released the money.” They couldn’t explain why funds would take 3-5 days to reach us, but they received money from the same account instantly.
I demanded that they give us interest-free credit for 3-5 days and send our groceries to us. They refused. Every suggestion and solution I proposed was just shot down immediately. I warned them I would stir up bad publicity for them. They didn’t care.
The single thing that they suggested was sending us a free “care package” of essential items to keep us going until our refund cleared. I agreed that this would be acceptable, but I was told they would have to see the store manager as only he could authorise it and they would phone me back.
Someone from Tesco did ring later, but knew nothing about a “care package.” They offered no solutions and contacted us merely to offer the same meaningless, pathetic and useless apology that we had already received. They actually expected us to struggle for 3-5 days then reorder from Tesco! I will never shop there again even if I live to be 1000!
While looking on Tesco’s Facebook page, I discovered there are many more people complaining about things like mince that is underweight, products that are damaged or mouldy and horrific customer service. The ones that Tesco take any notice of at all are replied with the same ineffectual apologies and a request to communicate by private message, to prevent other Facebook users from knowing what Tesco are really like.
I have created a Facebook page named Boycott Tesco in order to warn people not to shop there. On it, I collect complaints and stories of Tesco mistreating customers which I find online. I also invite disgruntled shoppers to post themselves. I hope that this approach will catch on, so we can actually punish guilty parties. While creating this page, I discovered an old defunct Boycott Tesco page and one named Boycott Tesco And Halal, so I am not the first they have angered so much.
It is not only commercial enterprises that behave in this manner. As told in an earlier article, I have had many disputes over benefits and one with Healthy Start, who telephonically contradicted their own letter. I went to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, who agreed with everything I said, yet nothing could be done. Organisations should be forced to stick to what they have said, even if they were mistaken.
Government funded groups such as these, whose reason to exist is to help the most needy, are the worst. Boycott is not even an option, as there is no alternative provider and the people affected cannot go without, so we have to endure it. I once, upon wrongfully not receiving our benefits, attempted to go to the press about it. They weren’t interested, they said “It’s not newsworthy, it happens every day.” I think the fact that it happens every day is very newsworthy, but they were probably too busy proliferating anti-UKIP propaganda.
Though Boycott Tesco is a personal crusade, I believe that UKIP should take a stand against corrupt large companies in defence of individuals.